Shenyang J-15  (China's "Su-33")

J-15 in 1/72 scale: kit modelling report of the Trumpeter kit 

  ....a model from the China series.....
J-15 was China's copy of the Sukhoi Su-33 "naval Flanker". First, China acquired from Russia the Sukhoi Su-27SK "Flanker-B" export version. China was the launch customer in 1991 with an order for about 24 aircraft including 4 trainers being manufactured by Russia's KnAAPO. Follow orders followed in 1995 for 16 additional SU-27SK with ECM pods at the wing tips. End 1996 China got a license agreement for the type but the engines and avionics still being acquired in Russia. The local manufactured aircraft is referred to as in China as the J-11. It however required local on-site help from Russian technicians to achieve a production of about 100 J-11's. Shenyang also started development of a J-11B with Chinese systems and more modern radar, local WS-10 engine and radar absorbing materials. First flight of the J-11B was in 2004. The J-11BS in the two seater version. Meanwhile China had a requirement for an advanced "Su-33MK" look-alike two seater with adapted avionics. The Russian KnAAPO integrated new systems and this enabled weapons usage of the Kh-29, Kh-31 anti-surface missiles, Kh-59 and bombs as well as AAM like the R-27, R-73 and R-77. First flight was in 1999 and it appears that some 80 were delivered from 2002.   
China's naval aspirations grew as well with its navy fleet air force (PLAN AF). A second hand unfinished ex-Russian carrier Varyag, a 55,000 tons sister ship of Admiral Kutznetsov, was acquired lying in a shipyard in the Ukraine. It was bought to become a hotel in Macau but that was a cover up. It was towed end 2002 to a Chinese shipyard and refurbished until 2010 becoming the carrier "Lianoning" (Type 001).

For the carrier a fighter was needed but from Russia acquisition of the Sukhoi Su-33 "naval Flanker" was not allowed. Not only the ship Varyag lay in Ukraine but also a T-10-K3 prototype of the SU-33, was in storage. A secret deal was made to buy the T-10K-3 aircraft as well and in China in 2001 a reversed engineering program started. This evolved into the Shenyang J-15, a very similarly looking aircraft as the Russian Su-33 but with different systems, much more powerful WS-10 engines, avionics based on the J-11 and other weapons along with different pylons and wing tip fairings. The J-15 is called the "Flying Shark" and sea trials started probably in 2012. It is intended that up to 24 J-15 are to based on the
Lianoning along with several Z-9 and Z-18 helicopters.  

Photo update 70 th aniversary China PDRC (Oct. 1, 2019)
j-15 China 70th years parade Beijing     
5.  J-15
trumpeter j-15 1/72 01670
Trumpeter of China
released in 2014 a 1/72 scale kit #01670 of the "Chinese J-15"  (along with a flight deck diorama parts). The package has about 230 parts in the usual Trumpeter plastic  in 9 + 4 sprues. There is also a small etched metal fret for grills and smaller bits.

A big bonus is the "flight deck  with blast shield" with some 5 more sprues that include 3  crew figures. A very nice thing to find these in the kit along with deck stripe decals.
j-15 trumpeter
j-15 schemes
j-15 schemes
j-15 decals trumpeter 01670

Markings are for several test J-15's. But the decals can be used also for the few now operational J-15's in regiment markings with the "Flying Shark" on the tails.

parts j-15
p8 stores
A very nice touch are the dedicated sprues for the Chinese weaponry and different J-15 needed pylons: PL-8 AAM, PL-12 AAM, KD-88 ASM missile, YJ-12 and LGB's are all provided in this kit.  
You also get as a bonus parts for a carrier flight deck and blast shield and a few carrier crew figures!
decak 1

I had also the Zvezda Sukhoi Su-33 kit #7279 and did a quick out-of-the-box kit comparison:

- The external shapes and sizes are very similar between each kit. So indeed, it seems the J-15 to be a reversed engineered aircraft.
- the J-15 has two Chinese WS-10 jet engines which are bigger and heavier. The exhausts are also a bit different; the engine fairings are also just slightly bulkier which seems logic;
- the main wheel diameter of the J-15 kit is 1 mm wider than the Su-33; it seems the J-15 undercarriage is a bit "heavier"; (may be interpretation).
- the wing hinge-line for the outboard wings is about 15 cm (2mm in 1/72) more outboard on the J-15 kit; (may be interpretation).
- the J-15 wing tip fairings are different, which is correct for the other weaponry;
- the stabilizers outboard fold-up sections are much bigger on the J-15;
- the J-15 kit canards have a little more trailing edge sweep and are slightly bigger as on the Su-33 kit;
- Chinese weaponry and different J-15 pylons are catered for.
(the Zvezda Su-33 model will be made in the future along with other Su-27 kits).

Back to the J-15 Flying Shark model.....

The kit instructions are the usual Trumpeter style. The main upper and lower fuselage are just 2 parts with the separate outboard (fold-up option) wing sections. There are alternative parts for a folded-up wing and straight level flight wing. Trumpeter correctly for a folded-up wing has the ailerons "drooped"; this correct. But on photos I saw that for parked folded-up J-15's the inboard slat section also droop down. Also, the 2 canards  #E3 and #E16 are also when parked some 5 degrees tilted-up, this can be done by glueing. (The inboard trailing edge flaps were seen on some parked J-15's drooped down but also on photos in neutral so here the kit was not modified).

Note: if you want a J-15 "ready for take-off with full engines running" at the deck, you will need to droop all leading edge flaps: this needs surgery and new parts #U2, U3, U4, U5 are provided but this is shown a bit late in the Trumpeter instructions, see STEP 23. Remove the several fixed sections before starting the build.

I wanted to model a J-15 with folded-up wings and stabilizers. So it was decided to modify the inboard slat sections. But first I assembled the main fuselage, it fits OK but I used clamps anyway.
As next step, with a razor saw from both the upper and lower wing sections the slat sections were cut out, so remove the section on both sides.
slat 1
The inboard slats droop and extend forward  to increase lift at low speed; the gaps were closed with card and putty and the edges inscribed. That settled this modification.
slat 2 slat 3
The rest of the kit can be assembled as per instructions. For the wing tips I opted for the special fairings #E7 and #E21. The nose fits very well so can be left for later after painting.
Also fit the side panels in etched metal for the intakes.


The kit fits as a dream with very good parts in crisp plastic. No putty was needed at all, just some sanding. The air brake was set closed, the small gap can be filled with white glue.

Quickly after main parts were assembled, but still with "loose" outboard wing section, the model got a grey base grey with the airbrush using Revell aqua "steingrau" 75. This showed no flaws.

The overall J-15 colour can now be applied. Trumpeter indicates a very light grey approx. Fed.Std FS36495 which looks correct. Note that the grey panels at tail tips and stabilizers may vary between actual J-15 aircraft. I saw a photo of what seems a J-15 coded "grey 114" from a regiment deployed on the Chinese carrier Lianoning with lighter panels and some yellow-red striping. 

The overall colour FS36495 was airbrushed with thinned Gunze Sangyo H338 acrylic. The radar nose got a FS36118 grey Gunze H305, the smaller tail tips grey Gunze H324 and the stabilizer panels were given a coat of approx. FS 36081 with Gunze H310.
The fold-up wing hinges were painted a mix of chromate-yellow.
Note that the Trumpeter colour scheme sheets are nice but a bit confusing as they show "shadows". These are thus not grey areas on the model!

The hot airframe outside panels of the engine bays were airbrushed Revell aqua 99 aluminium after masking.
The tail exhaust pipes were given various coats of burned metal.

The other parts like the stores including some big anti-ship missiles were airbrushed white.

After the model got a gloss varnish coat airbrushing Johnson Future/ Pledge, next came the decals as provided mostly from the kit. I opted for a J-15 with grey code numbers and some yellow-red stripes as seen on internet. This can be easily made with home made spare decals and the other markings including the "Flying Sharks" are in the kit decalsheet. 
The Chinese national markings in this case are too big as provided in the kit. I found some smaller good ones in the HobbyBoss MiG-15 kit of 21mm length.
These smaller markings are also positioned on the wing more inboard than indicated in the Trumpeter drawings. A pair of Chinese flags aft of the cockpit were found in the Trumpeter K-8 Karakorum kit. The J-15 aircraft codes "114" in medium grey were found in the spare decals box.
Finishing was now done but the outboard wing sections not yet installed.

The cockpit was painted mostly medium grey and raised instrument details are provided. The ejection seat of unknown type got some harnesses made from tape.

Next the landing gears were installed. I opened up a bit the main locator holes for the gear legs. The main wheel hubs seem to have the typical "Russian green" colour, using Revell Aqua 364. On the nose gear there is a water wash divider from etched metal and the wheel hub here is grey. Some undercarriage hydraulics were suggested made from thin metal wire, both on the gear legs as well as in the gear bays.
The pitot tubes are in the kit (parts #E5, E18 ) but Trumpeter forgot to show in the instructions the 3rd pitot tube on the right side aft of the radar nose. The pitot part itself is fortunately in the kit. The smaller angle-of-attack vanes, etched metal parts #PE5 are a bit too big; I cut these smaller and set them in place with superglue; paint these aluminium.

The canopy frames were painted inside and out with a brush. Inside the canopy I installed from black stretched sprue some what looks to be de-misting ducts. Some cockpit details in the tub were added from scrap.

The outboard section of the stabilizers were set in place at 90 degrees.
The outboard folded wing sections need care as each hinge is in fact pretty weak but minimal contact surface to glue on. I added from scrap some bended etched metal bits to get stronger joints. The wing tip ends should be slightly inboard to each vertical tail leading edge. The hinge areas were all painted yellow when dried.

The anti-collision wing tip lights were painted and final antennas installed. (Kit antenna #PE4 in STEP 14 was not used as it was not seen on photos). I also saw an unused etched metal bit which seemed a typical vertical tail discharger; I installed it on the right tail as well as #PE1+2 seen in STEP 7. 

The big YJ-12 and KD-88 missiles nicely found in this kit were installed with the adaptor pylons along with one PL-12 AAM. This configuration is also seen on real J-15 aircraft with folded wing tips. (The PL-8 missiles were not used).

Almost there! The J-15 now got a final gloss varnish coat with the airbrush with the usual technique using Johnson Future/ Pledge. This will give an even sheen and protect the decals. The canopy was set in position and that completed the J-15.  
The bonus flight deck with blast shield is very nice. I made them as per Trumpeter instructions but inscribed a few extra deck panel lines with a scriber.
The blast shield is seen here in raised position.
blast shie;d
The base deck colour I airbrushed Revell "panzergrau" Aqua 78. Instead of masking all the stripes, I used the kit stripe decals. They look good. (I did not yet finish and paint the crew deck figures of the kit).

A final base matt coat was airbrushed on the deck and some oil spills suggested. That completed this very nice J-15 project.  
missile  missile
  J-15  PLANAF China naval air force

j-15 china  
upper view shenyang j-15
j-15 shenyang flying shark
rear ..... and on deck....

on deck

shenyang j-15 china
j-15 china

..on board the Chinese carrier.... Lianoning

china carrier Liaoning J-15

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Created this page December 6, 2018